You have been tasked with developing an office intranet for an important client. How do you go about selecting the right intranet development option to meet the customer’s needs, at the right price and with minimum risk to your web development agency?
Any of you who have attempted to develop a bespoke intranet will appreciate what a long and difficult process it can be, often with no guarantees at the end. In this article, we examine the option of pre-built CMS intranet systems as a viable proposition for your customers. This option is capable of being customized to meet the business requirements of the majority of companies. The pre-built framework means that all the development and testing is already completed and proven. Also, outsourced cloud intranet hosting offers a range of additional benefits to customers particularly concerning security, speed, and dependability. Interested? Read on to find out how a CMS intranet can make the task of intranet development much easier for you.
The process a web development agency goes through to develop an intranet for a customer typically involves a number of steps. These include the following:
The first step is to gather detailed information from the client around their requirements and to undertake a needs analysis. What does the client want their intranet to achieve? What key features and business tools are relevant to this organization? What are the baseline requirements regarding data and information? This step may involve focus groups, staff questionnaires, workshops and can take a long time to complete.
The next step is documentation which involves detailing the needs analysis stage, all the business processes, information and data flow diagrams as well as an initial site map.
Developing a prototype is the next step in the process. This enables the client to get a good general feel for what the end product will look like and how the information will be delivered. From the perspective of the web development agency, the prototype enables the consultant to affirm that the intranet meets the goals of the organization and is fit for purpose.
The final step in the intranet development process is testing. The complete intranet software will need to be extensively tested for the following:
- Ease of use
- Ongoing management
- Multi-device compatibility
- User load
- Appeal to end users.
As well as confirming that the intranet is fully functional, you will also want to ensure that it meets the needs of end users. This includes visual appeal, ease of use and achieving the overall objectives of the intranet.
This whole intranet development process is time and labor intensive and, therefore, requires a significant investment from the client. Not all companies are willing to make that investment. In addition, there is inherent risk involved for the web development agency. Even after thoroughly going through this entire process, change requests can quite easily spiral out of control usually costing the agency.
The hosted CMS intranet offers a much less risky option for web development agencies. Moreover, for the client, it has the advantage of being a much quicker and simpler process. It takes MyHub customers, for example, on average three days to launch their intranet.
A CMS intranet offers a streamlined and more cost-effective development process for consultants and clients. To demonstrate this, we examine below how the intranet development process would work with a CMS intranet.
CMS Intranet Development
Rather than starting from a blank piece of paper as we did previously, the starting point, this time, is the extensive range of functions and features already within the CMS intranet software. This approach has the advantage of framing the client’s expectations upfront about what is achievable. It also has the advantage of reducing the risk to the web development agency apparent in bespoke intranets. It’s a relatively easy task to match the functionality against the organization’s needs.
The template approach offered by CMS intranets eliminates the need for extensive documentation. A basic site map already exists with a set of powerful modules that can be easily customized. Furthermore, it’s a straightforward process to add or edit pages and modules which will reduce the need for extensive pre-planning.
The development stage is curtailed with a free trial. Most CMS intranet providers will allow customers to test drive the product before committing themselves. There’s no intranet software to install or learning curve involved. A simple step-by-step builder process with flexible design and page options enables clients to go live with a customized intranet within a matter of days.
All the pre-testing has been done with a CMS intranet so you and your client can be assured of functionality. Also, the pre-built framework is more cost-effective as there are no setup or ongoing management and maintenance costs either. All of this is covered in the monthly fee. CMS intranets have proven high availability and uptime as well as high CPU speeds.
Moreover, it’s a much easier sell for consultants when there are users already using the product who can verify that it not only does the job but that it does the job extremely well.
Cloud Intranet Hosting
The option of cloud-hosted CMS intranets offers a number of additional benefits for your customers. Rather than purchasing additional servers and hosting and maintaining the intranet themselves, customers can outsource it to a hosting company. The benefits include:
- Up-to-date security features
- Fixed low monthly costs
- Unlimited users
- Managed storage
- Automatic updates
- Automatic backups.
It may be then that configuration rather than development is the way to go for the majority of your customers. CMS intranets offer none of the unknowns of bespoke intranets, providing a better return on investment for customers and less risk to the developer.
From the perspective of the developer, this means that you can be more focused on understanding and delivering against the customer’s requirements. Positioning your agency as being responsive and able to deliver will give you a competitive edge over other agencies who may be more focused on maximizing the hours billed and revenue raised from intranet development.
CMS intranets can simultaneously meet the needs of your customers and your web development agency. Contact us at MyHub for a free consultation on how CMS intranets can make intranet development a much easier task.